A few years back, the NBA cartel established a rule saying that 18 year-olds can’t play in the league. This, combined with the NCAA cartel’s rules, means that in practice if you want to become a professional basketball player you need to spend at least one preparatory year playing professional basketball without being paid for it. And make no mistake—big-time college hoops is a professional endeavor. Everyone except the players gets paid a lot for it. One obvious alternative strategy would be to simply go play professionally in some other league in Europe or China where they don’t have this rule.
Last year, Brandon Jennings became the first guy to blaze that trail, signing with Rome’s team in the Italian league. Now this year he’s in the NBA playing for the Bucks. And playing well! He’s scoring 25.3 points per game on efficient shooting and adding 5.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds.
I’d like to think this shows that not only are their advantages to getting paid to play basketball, but also that playing in Europe against other grown men is probably superior preparation for the NBA than is playing against teenagers in college.